Fingerprint lifted from quarter lands robbery suspect in jail

Fingerprint lifted from quarter lands robbery suspect in jail

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston Police say a fingerprint left on a quarter landed an armed robbery suspect in jail.

Investigators arrested 44 year old St. Julian Smalls nine days after the robbery at the Sunoco gas station on Sam Rittenberg Boulevard.

According to detectives, a debit card with no name on it that was on the counter of the business was traced back to Smalls.

But they needed more evidence.

Detective Daniel English took the coins to the crime lab.

"I said let's take a shot, let's get these things processed," English recalled.

It was crime scene technician Mary Phillips' job to try to lift fingerprints from the quarters left at the gas station.

"Money is very unlikely to get a print off of. It's touched so much. If you think about how much you handle coins especially," Phillips explained.

That didn't stop Phillips from trying to lift a fingerprint from the quarter.

She did a demonstration for us.

"Quick visual examination of it, in this case, I don't even see any," Phillips said.

She put the quarter in a so called super glue chamber.

The glue hardens on the coin.

Then Phillips put fingerprint powder on the quarter.

"In this case, you can kind of start to see ridge details coming through from the fingerprint," she said.

The final step in the process is putting a putty like substance on the coin that gets into all the crevices.

Phillips says in the armed robbery case, he procedure was right on the money.

"It's probably the first print off a coin I've ever seen," said the crime scene technician.

Cops matched the print on the coin to smalls' prints that were on file at the jail.

They say it was a perfect match.

"I try to stay positive about it, so I was hoping so," said a happy English.

Smalls is charged with armed robbery and violating his probation. He is being held at the Charleston County Jail.

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